The best cocktail ever – Citrus Quo

Last weekend was the last birthday of my twenties… To celebrate this occasion, we had a sort of made up/influenced by the internet cocktail to go with the lobster and cake at my birthday party.

IMG_2728

 

THE CITRUS QUO

To make:

  • a glass and some fancy pants straws, also a lot of ice
  • half a shot of gin (I would always choose Gordons)
  • a shot or two of limoncello (the more limoncello, the less bitter)
  • slimline tonic water
  • a pink grapefruit wedge

Drink and try to stay upright!

Mary’s Cornish Pasties

IMG_2014

IMG_2016

The hands modelling the Cornish Pasties belong to my mother. The crumbs from the Cornish Pasties are still residing in my mother’s car.

Quite frankly, I’ve eaten and I’ve made a lot of Cornish Pasties in my life. And these from Mary’s Pasties at Tresillian Garden Centre are the best EVER. Every year, we make a detour on the way home to get a pasty each for the journey and it’s always these ones.

Mary is a local lady who supplies, handmade, all the pasties herself to local garages and sells them from the tearoom in Tresillian Garden Centre. They’re so tasty, thick crunchy pastry, really peppery, good gravy, nice chunks of meat and lots of vegetables.

If you’re on your way home from a Cornish holiday this summer, between Truro and St Austell, you have to stop here and have a pasty… BEST EVER!

Insalata Caprese – possibly the most beautiful salad ever

I’m just dipping in quickly with another super quick light supper for the summer. I apologise for the radio silence recently but things are a bit up in the air at the moment, I’m packing up my wooden spoons to return to Oxford for the foreseeable future. After ten amazing years in Liverpool, I’ve been offered a great job back in Oxford and so I’ve accepted it and the packing has commenced! If I don’t update as often, it’s because I’m floundering beneath seven years of bad fashion, forgotten photos and mix tapes! Also I have loaned my laptop to a friend to begin his work as a Head Chef in charge of the development of a brand new restaurant so I’m often without computer access.

Anyway, enough excuses, please accept this salad in the interim and I promise to be back soon.

caprese

You don’t really need a recipe for this but just look at those colours. I’m a mozzarella fiend, especially buffalo mozzarella. This is possibly the best thing I can think to eat on a hot day. Slice a tomato, cover it in salt and pepper and leave it for quite a long time so the salt and pepper can do their thing, I’m not sure what their thing is but my, it tastes amazing. Slice some mozzarella over the top. Throw on some basil leaves. In a small jar/jug, whisk some pesto with some olive oil. Drizzle over the top. Eat immediately, with or without crusty bread.

Back soon. I promise.

“Green Toast” – Avocado on Toast

I think there may be a common theme to this week’s posts, easy and involving bright colours. I have another super simple recipe for you here, so simple it’s barely a recipe but perfect for hot, summer days and airless, summer nights. I like to eat this for brunch, sometimes I mix it up with a bit of chilli sauce or similar but then you’re stepping on guacamole territory, although frankly I think there’s nothing better than the idea of guacamole on toast.

Avocados and I haven’t always been friends. For years, I couldn’t understand the appeal of the weird soapy green thing that everyone ate topped with prawn cocktail and then it clicked and now I would sell my family members for an avocado. When I was in Australia, I ate heaps of avocado, mostly on eggs Benedict but quite often like this and it was love at first bite. My mum has the most amazing green avocado dishes, I think they must be from the 60s, 70s, very Abigail’s party. In one of the photos below, I have heaped it with the mushed avocado because I love the dishes so much I thought they deserved to appear on this blog.

This is ludicrously simple so please forgive me the recipe but again it’s the sort of thing that may just appeal to your jaded senses at the end of a long day. I also appreciate I’ve now given you two something on toast recipes in a row but it’s hot and we are all fans of bread. Eat this with an achingly long gin and tonic and sit in the garden and celebrate that summer has arrived and it’ll probably be gone by next week.

avocado on toast

“Green Toast” – Avocado on Toast

  • 2 slices of bread, you want something brown and robust, nothing flimsy like Mighty White
  • half an avocado
  • half a lime
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Toast your two slices of bread and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, mush the avocado, salt and pepper and lime juice with the back of a fork. Taste and add lime and salt and pepper accordingly. You might want to use a whole lime’s worth of juice.
  3. Smush into your toast and serve.

avocado lime avocado mush

 

Cherry Tomato Bruschetta – Sunshine on Toast

IMG_2355

My word it is hot with a capital H! Having waited for what feels like months for our summer, we’re now getting it by the bucketload and I am wafting around enjoying it enormously. So far I’ve cheered along Wimbledon, had Pimms in the garden, eaten some raspberries and caught the sun on my nose!

I think this time of the year, we’re all looking out for lighter things to eat, things to make later in the evening when it’s cooler. These came about because I had a loaf of AMAZING sourdough bread and because our local market has the best cherry tomatoes. I always buy a paper bag of them on a Friday to eat with my lunch and this was a way of using up the leftovers.

Bruschetta couldn’t be simpler and I don’t want you to think that you need a recipe for this but consider it a sort of aide memoire or an idea of something for supper when you’re too hot to think! The colours of this are instantly cheering.

Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

  • 2 slices of sourdough/dense bread – mine was horrendously hard from not being wrapped up properly but this doesn’t really matter as you’re going to toast and then drizzle with olive oil and the dressing from the tomatoes – stale bread works well as you want some kind of resistance!
  • a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced and chopped any which way
  • half a red onion, diced incredibly finely
  • a clove of garlic, chopped very small and a clove of garlic to rub the bread with
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • sherry vinegar
  • basil leaves
  1. Toast your two slices of sourdough, drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove.
  2. In a separate bowl, toss the tomatoes, red onion, garlic, basil leaves, a glug of olive oil, a huge amount of salt and pepper and a splash of sherry vinegar. The longer you leave this combination, the better it tastes. I try to leave it to infuse/marinade/do its thing for about 15 minutes.
  3. Spoon the tomato mixture, and the oily dressing, over the toast and serve sprinkled with fresh basil leaves.

IMG_2350 IMG_2339

Pith-Pith-Pithivier-ish – with Taleggio and Garlic Mushrooms

IMG_2454

 

Trying having to two double gins and then saying pithivier, it’s a real laugh. I actually don’t think this is a pithivier, it’s probably just a puff pastry tart. I’m not entirely sure what constitutes an actual pithivier, but this is my version. My version in that it may be loosely based on the actual thing. I remember quite clearly that a pithivier needed to have lines scored down the puff pastry with a sharp knife before going in the oven. I did this so I think it counts.

It was actually pretty delicious. David did point out that a whole plate of it was a bit filling but you don’t need to be gluttons like us. Also I think a tart little salad on the side would help enormously with that. David had also consumed an errant mint leaf from the Jersey Royals which displeased him greatly so I think that may have marred the occasion. I’ve talked about Taleggio before, it’s one of my favourite cheeses. You don’t always see it in supermarkets but I got mine in the fancier cheese section of Asda, next to the delicatessen bit. Of course, best of all is buying it from a great, small, independent cheese shop but not everyone is blessed with one of these. Mild-ish but full of flavour and a texture that begs to be melted. The perfect pairing for this is the sultry buttery mushrooms sauteed in garlic and thyme and zingy rocket. I, obviously, used pre-made puff as my life is too short and fraught with melodrama to be making puff pastry but you could make flaky pastry if you have lots of time or the domestic inclination.

I actually found the process of making this quite pleasant, even so far as calming, as I got to fiddle about with decorative strips of puff pastry and totter about in the herb bed picking thyme. I was having the sort of day where I’d have willingly walked into the mouth of a polar bear so that must attest to the ease of this recipe. It also makes you feel pretty darned domestic when it comes out of the oven looking all golden and special.

You could make this into any shape you fancied and you could fill it with pretty much anything but it was really delicious and the perfect supper for the sort of wet and grizzly weather we’ve had recently. I took a picture of it cut so you could see the melty greatness…

Pithivier of Taleggio, Mushrooms and Rocket

Enough for 2-4, depending on your appetite

  • 250g taleggio, sliced
  • 350g mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of thyme leaves, I much prefer fresh
  • a garlic clove, crushed
  • a knob of butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 handfuls of rocket leaves
  • 300g puff pastry (ish) – a pack sized amount
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and heat the oil. Throw in the mushrooms and saute until softened.
  3. Add the thyme and garlic, turn the temperature down a little and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and set to one side.
  4. Either roll out your pastry or lay it out on a board. You want it to be pretty thin and, in this case, 2 large squares of the same size.
  5. On one of the pieces of puff, lay your rocket. Top with the mushroom mixture and then the sliced taleggio.
  6. With a pastry brush, brush the egg around your filling and lay the other piece of puff over the top, tucking and ruching to make sure there aren’t any holes. I then proceeded to add fancy strips and pithivier-required lines with the tip of a knife but you could do anything you wanted on the top. Perhaps a leaf or a fresco…
  7. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crispy.
  8. If you have the patience to wait 5 minutes for it to cool down, it’ll be easier to slice. I didn’t and I had copious ooze. There was cheese all over the kitchen but it was delicious.

IMG_2447 IMG_2448 IMG_2453

Writing on Mugs: Uses for the Stationery Cupboard

IMG_2386

I am a menace to all stationery cupboards, it’s not borne out of any malice or greed or an attempt to bring down ‘the man’ one highlighter at a time, I just love stationery. My father loves stationery; perhaps it’s genetic. When I was small, we would go to the art supplies shop in Newbury and read the names on the lids of the watercolour paints. I still love the names for paint colours. My mum’s shop was next to a stationer’s when I was a child and I would go round with some coins and choose what to buy, I could eke this process out for hours. I collect notebooks, beautiful, beautiful notebooks except I daren’t write in them lest I not save them for the right thing. I tend to buy boring exercise books for writing and keep my notebooks for best. Except I’m not sure I’ll ever find an occasion worthy enough.

One of my absolute highlights in the stationery world is pens. I will spend a vast amount of time seeking the perfect pen. Our stationery cupboard did have the perfect pen and I used these with absolute joy, they’ve never got that pen again and it makes me sad every time. Sharpies are the absolute king of pens though, they write beautifully, they write on anything. I dream of the day I source a gold one. So when I got home the other night and I found I’d put my work Sharpie in my bag, I knew exactly what I wanted to do… Writing on cups and mugs!

I know you’re thinking this is a food blog and I’m wittering about crafty things but I have seen some amazing examples of this with the coloured sharpies. Dinner services that would give Anthopologie a run for their money (sidenote: I would live in Anthropologie if they let me!). The gypsy-ish print that Cath Kidston does, you could create that with a Sharpie. Polka dots, yes! Aztec cowboy high jinks, Sharpies are your friends. This post isn’t sponsored by Sharpie by the way, I just really love pens. Serving dishes and salad bowls, ceramic spoons or clocks, glass jugs… the list is endless!

So anyway, writing on mugs/cups is very simple. You want a fresh cup of mug, I obviously used plain white but some people I imagine would come up with amazing ideas for decorated or coloured mugs. I wiped these down with watered down nail polish remover just to get rid of any grease or marks that might affect the set. I then did some writing. I have plans to draw some things but I wanted to practice a bit first and I’m a bit scared of drawing. I’ll update you when I do. I made the mugs below based on a few things I’d seen on Pinterest. (David is the coffee drinker, I’ll drink most pink types of teabag)

You just need to set what ever you like down on your cup. Some people use gold Sharpies, that effect is amazing. When the ink is dry, you can bake this in the oven at 140C for about 30 minutes. This should set the ink. I would add a word of caution that they probably won’t respond well to a dishwasher. Probably best for hand-washing and light-to-moderate usage!

Imagine the other things you could do, you could have a whole dinner service!

IMG_2385